Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Saturday 4th July was a fitting date for a return to freedom, albeit of a new face mask heavy type. Virtually everyone sitting around the table at Sunday lunch was suffering from a hangover, including myself, having let our hair down a bit too much the day before as we went out and about. As for the shops, restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs they must be over the moon, the ones who haven't shut down for financial reasons that is. It’s hard not to have noticed the many casualties to this fear inducing virus war.
For my family, however, this past few months of self isolation has been a welcome respite from the world, a chance to hide away undisturbed and that’s because 6 months ago to the day, on the 6th January 2020, shortly before the lockdown, I lost my husband and my boys lost their dad. Sudden death syndrome it was, he literally just dropped down dead and ironically this was consequent to his long term hobby - endurance running. He was only 52 and fit as a fiddle.
It seems cruel don't you think that the very thing we are conditioned to believe is good for us - i.e. exercise, was the very thing that killed him. But he wasn't alone. My research has revealed that 1% of long term endurance runners go the same way. and are increasingly at risk as they get into their 50s and 60s, the wear and tear taking it's toll on the heart. It turns out that whilst exercise in moderation is good for you, do too much and in some people it can be fatal. But it's like everything in life I guess, it comes down to balance.
I don't run, in fact I can't run for long distances, I am a sprinter. I have never really understood the marathon thing either - it just seems so barbaric to put yourself through that. But it’s certainly impressive. I have always been of the philosophy of building exercise into my everyday life - burst sprint back from the school run, bound up the tube steps, clean my house, carry shopping daily and so on. I keep my brain fit in the same way. But who would have thought being dedicated to fitness could be quite the opposite to what one would naturally think.
When someone close to you dies just like that it's an extraordinary thing, but death is very clear cut. There is no point in reasoning why. It's just how it is. Shock, disbeleif, sadness, anger they all come along with the territory as stages of grief. It's hard to process ultimately and who knows when you really do. All I know is that time just passes day by day as you get through it. Shock stops your brain functioning at first and you just feel numb, running on adrenaline, but when that wears off its grim, you can barely hear, cant' deal with anything much, even a simple question floors you. But for me it has been the hardest thing seeing my children in such pain. It helped that we were in it together.
Early on I made the decision that we wouldn’t sink into a sad prolonged stupor, because that’s the last thing he would have wanted. If the situation was reversed my kids and I agreed that we would want to be loved and missed but not lamented just securely locked into their hearts. The wellbeing teacher at one of my children’s schools drew a comparison of lockdown with grief, but it was never anything like that, because it was not final. It was always going to end.
But her’s an interesting thought to consider. There is a scientific theory that Virus’s are some sort of elaborate evolutionary control system which invade the world when it is out of equilibrium and need’s rebalancing. Try to get rid of it and it will just come back morphed in different forms because virus’s are very very adaptive. There are actually at least 36 types of coronavirus and many others alongside to boot.
So alongside trying to avoid it, we need to think about how much needs rebalancing in this world right here, right now. This has been an extraordinary time and it’s great to be free, but it has also given us an invaluable opportunity to slow down, learn, think, rebalance and adapt. We really only adapt when we have to. Change is driven by adversity. The virus is a message that we need to do things differently and to rebalance the world and that is desperately needed in so many ways. It’s time to evolve into a future fit world and everyone must play their part. It’s not survival of the fittest, but survival through innovation.
In memory of Olly Chapman.